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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Nov 17, 2012 11:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Interesting New Reviewer

I actually LIKE Self Portrait . I think most of the material is good, with a few WTF moments ( the "Dylan Brothers" version of The Boxer ). The material on "Dylan" are out-takes, and rejects from the Self Portrait , and New Morning sessions . But as you note some of these are likable .
Dylan has spun his Self Portrait story for years . He claims it was made to throw everyone off his back, to sort of deliberately piss them off ( it pissed people off, but they still didn't leave him alone ) . But I think he is being a little disingenuous . He really sounds like he cares on most of these songs, in some of them he sings his ass off , I think it didn't go the way he wanted, or lost interest , and the horrible reviews (Rolling Stone's first line of their review "What is this shit ?") made him want to disown it . New Morning came out only a few months later . I think at that time the idea of the great songwriter, doing a cover album seem more odd that it does now .

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Nov 17, 2012 6:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Interesting New Reviewer

I'm not a fan of that period, aside from New Morning (and the new recordings on Greatest Hits II). It's hard to say what his intentions were with all those covers...he sure spent a long time in the studio, almost a year on Self Portrait & months on New Morning, trying out different things (very unusual for him, since he's always preferred to knock out albums in a few sessions). I doubt he would spend month after month recording tunes for a sarcastic put-on, even if much of Self Portrait comes off that way. So it's perhaps a record of mixed intentions & unachieved purposes.
It seems to me like he was somewhat paralyzed by indecision & lack of direction at the time, that there was some kind of block. I think it also translates into the lack of confidence in much of his singing at the time, he often sounds very muted. (He also sounds hoarse on a lot of tunes from this period, which is interesting...perhaps intentional?)
It's downright painful to hear some of the outtakes on "Dylan"! Especially compared to similar songs (or sometimes the same songs) he'd done a few years earlier in the Basement Tapes, which were full of joy & purpose & strong singing. And yet, even amidst the dreck he could still pull out something heartfelt like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RbxbmQYgKs
Then he went & massacred the song with a band & Vegas-style backup singers. Go figure!